samedi, avril 12, 2008

"Meaningless" sex

You know how one household problem can lead to a totally unrelated one?

I won't bore you with the torrid details, but suffice it to say I was definitely ready for a comedy last night. Escaping the technological conundrums of the VOIP router and the back-up heating problem in the living room, I rented a 2004 movie called "Seeing Other People."

If you are willing to suspend disbelief, or maybe suspend belief for the space of an hour or two, this slight movie is really pretty funny-with a nasty edge to it.

On the threhold of getting married to a man with whom she is quite happy (in a content, doing the laundry on Saturday night way), a young woman decides she hasn't had enough sexual experience. Before she vows "forever" she wants to have meaningless sex with some other guys. Her fiance isn't happy about this-at first. But as the movie goes on, and they both start hooking up with other people, he gets into the spirit of the experiment.

Of course it is not long into the movie that they realize they have started something that they can't control. This isn't a movie for the sentimental. But it is very funny-and close enough to the hook-up culture so prevalent in colleges and among young people to seem plausible. I have to say I thought parts of it were hilarious-and cried in a couple of the other parts. A subplot involving a young boy came just close enough to real life for me to get very squirmy.

If there is a moral here, it's don't do a threesome with a feminist and her crack-head friend from Harvard.

Although not at all treacly, "Seeing Other People" reminded me that when we play with other people's feelings, we aren't only gaming our relationships. We may be affecting a whole chain of others-and will get to see them naked, in many more ways than one.

vendredi, avril 11, 2008

For reasons of practicality and of egotism, I decided to get a professional head shot that I could send with my columns. Not that anyone is kicking down the door to see what I look like now,as opposed to what I looked like half a decade ago.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by at the studio of a local photographer.

After fiddling with his machines to adjust to my reflective blue silk jacket, he began. About sixty photos and a few poses later, he told me he'd call in a week or two to show me the pictures on his laptop.

This morning I went over to his office, where I was greeted by a photo he had already printed. I have to tell you, readers, it was gorgeous. Thanks to the wizardry of his software program, I hardly recognized myself.

I stared at the flawless, unwrinkled skin, and the eyes without any hint of dark circles-and then I gave it back to him.

Show me the ones where I look my best that are closest to what I really look like now, I asked him.

I would love to look like the portrait perfect picture-and perhaps I did, about ten years ago. But I found I couldn't leave myself behind. A little Photoshop to even out the complexion, perhaps-but not a wholesale retouch that makes me look like a female Dorian Grey.

I learned lots about how the world of fashion photography works this morning, and how much of what we see isn't even the approximation of reality. When I look at a picture, I want to be able to see myself-and to have others see a person who is capable of viewing reality without a blurred lens.

But I've kept one of the slightly Photoshopped ones for the columns-after all, a girl's got a right to look a tad glamorous now and then.

A walk with a friend

It was such a lovely day here. I took my shaky 99 Volvo down to Wayne, and met a friend for a walk. We spend two hours talking about how to market newspapers, the current state of the newspaper biz, various idiots we have known, and the endless mystery of male-female communication. He is not at all a believer-gently, he kids me about certain "design flaws." An introvert, he crafts his wonderful stories and then goes home to blissful solitude and his happy marriage.

With his street smarts, and his exuberant maleness, and a wonderful empathy and deep appreciation for women, he is able to interpret the peculiar ways of malekind to those of us single women who need to try to understand them-me, in particular. We can get pretty earthy when we get together-but all in the interest of anthropology, you understand.

He is like a big brother-honest, challenging, but protective. Don't get so jaded by the cads that you miss the real one, if, by some miracle, he comes along, he advises me. I don't know that a broken computer, a wet dog and a staggering car await me-and I leave full of the contentment that having a good guy friend can bring to a woman who protects her deeper thoughts almost as fiercely as she guards her heart.

mardi, avril 08, 2008

I'm wrestling with vanity tonight---and vanity is winning.

Two generations ago, it is fairly safe to say that most middle-aged women would not worry about looking toned and fit and hot enough to attract male attention. Unless they were movie stars, they probably would not have even expected it. After all, if you weren't married or living in what was termed a "Boston marriage," you probably weren't looking for amorous attention.

Now it seems that women, whether married or not, are supposed to be sexy enough to attract male glances, even if its a sideway look at the Acme. So we get radiated and injected and whitened, trying to stave off the time when age wins.

I haven't been injected or radiated-but I am still pleased when men notice me, as a few did tonight, or find something in me that makes them want to know me better. Stunning, one emailed me tonight. Stunned, more likely.

My mother was Lesley Caron, Audrey Hepburn beautiful (which I am not). Although her hair got grey and she gained crows feet and laugh lines, men would still cluster around her at dinner, wanting to hear her stories and catch the reflection of her joyfulness.

At Dad's service this weekend, a friend called her "the incomparable Paulette." Her inner fire lit her up like a torch, daring us all to shine more bravely.

But I know that even my mom had her moments struggling with the alteration of her natural beauty.

Eventually, perhaps soon, I will have to look into the mirror and accept that I am losing, as we do, the battle against wrinkles and grey hair and a stomach that is not what it was before two children. Aging with grace may be a matter of grace.

But more than an unwrinkled countenance, I crave that inner glow that comes from the soul...the light that comforts you even when you sleep alone.

lundi, avril 07, 2008

The "white guy" vote

In the spring, a woman's fancy turns to....standing in a muddy Glenmoore park viewing a Little League Game, and wondering whether Barack Obama can really win the Presidency. In other words, will white men vote for him?

Believe me, if you'd been there, hands freezing, your feet soaking wet from having stepped in a deceptive patch of muddy grass, you might be pondering Barack Obama's aspirations, too.

So let's play this one out...Hillary sees the delegate math isn't breaking for her. She looks as the superdelegates, and how they are trending toward Obama. After Pennsylvania and the June 3 primary, she surrenders. We lose our brokered convention-and Democrats are put out of the misery of watching white guys (and some women) defect to John McCain. The party coalesces around Barack Obama.

Or does it? I am not sure that, when it actually comes to pulling that lever or punching that card, or writing that name on the cardboard, that a lot of white men will actually vote for a black man. Some of them would rather choose a 70 year old Senator who favors war until "victory" in Iraq and huge tax breaks for the affluent-in other words they would vote against their own natural interests out of prejudice. I'm guessing there is a fairly big group of people who lie to pollsters on racial matters- we won't find out how large until November.